THE REQUEST BOX SHOW (Bilko CD 1594) (Released 1990)
1. Review by Oto Meszaros
|Las Vegas, August 19 & 20 1975
August 19, 1975 M/S:
See See Rider - Bathroom Story (dialogue) - Blue Suede Shoes - Young And Beautiful - Are You Lonesome Tonight - If You Love Me - Softly As I Leave You - It's Now Or Never - Polk Salad Annie - Introduction of The Righteous Brothers - My Boy
August 20, 1975 D/S:
And I Love You So - Green Green Grass Of Home - Fairytale - T.R.O.U.B.L.E. - Why Me Lord - Until It's Time For You To Go - Burning Love - Can't Help Falling In Love
Content: 4+ Sound: 3+ Artwork: 3
|1. Review by Oto Meszaros:
Bilko Records gave us many fabulous CDs in past years and their label soon became synonymous of quality with big Q. And "Request Box" CD is no exception. Naturally, Bilko's four 2 CD sets There's Always Me, Vol. 1 - 4 and American Crown Jewels are much more essential simply because of great value of used studio material. Especially all the 1969 out-takes are truly fantastic they gave us parts of sessions take after take, for me it is like an open book of Elvis genius.
But back to this CD: Elvis opened in Las Vegas second time in 1975, after his very successful July tour, where he was in fantastic voice and great mood and these good signs were still apparent here. But he was noticeable puffier than during June & July tours, looks tired and was probably ill. Jumpsuits like "Gypsy Suit" were too heavy, it must have been pretty tiring, performing in it, and it only emphasised his (still not so big) overweight.
Opening show on 18th August was very good with high-energy performances of 'T.R.O.U.B.L.E.', 'Suspicious Minds' and incredible weird version of 'Polk Salad Annie', as well as great requested version of 'My Boy'. From this show there does exist quite good quality footage with original sound, and audience filmed also all four other concerts.
According attendants and the press, Elvis was tired during midnight show on 20th August and often sat, next day was the rest of the engagement cancelled due to his illness. In fact, Elvis wanted go to on, but his physician recommended him a long rest. He was soon in Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis. Cancelled shows were compensated in December.
If some soundboard tapes from these concerts does exist is unknown, but lot of audience recorded material is out on the bootleg CDs: 'Loving You' CD is a quite good recording from 19th August dinner show (with rarities like 'Crying In The Chapel', 'Loving You', 'Suspicious Minds' and a funny 'My Boy'). Elvis, By Special Request from Live Archives label (also released on different label as 'Green Green Grass Of Home') contains complete 20th August show in good sound and 'Top Acts In Vegas Vol. 2' contains the closing 20th August performance sound is of fair quality too.
Cover artwork of this CD is good but not exceptionally, with two pictures on the front one in "Gypsy Suit" from Uniondale, New York July 19, 1975 and the second is from October 1974 Elvis wearing "Mad Tiger Suit". Inside is one more photo from 20th August 1975 Elvis with gift from Belgian fans - and an advertisement for three Elvis Fan Club magazines (I was member of one of them for almost four years) it is pretty unusual, but nice from Bilko label.
Now the sound: Naturally, it was recorded from audience with secret tape-deck, but the quality of the tape was really very good, this CD is probably best audience recording around, listening is better than some worse soundboards like Run On, Hurt or True Love Travels On A Gravel Road CDs.
These shows are called request box shows, because Elvis takes many audience requests during this period. 'See See Rider' is energetic beginning, you will notice Elvis good vocal form, next is funny "Bathroom Story" talk. Rather than with the usual 'I Got A Woman', he continued with a good version of 'Blue Suede Shoes' and what follows, is requested rarity 'Young And Beautiful' from the 'Jailhouse Rock' movie. It is short but nice, despite that Elvis didn't it too well after 18 years long pause (!) it is no surprise. Great, though, and next is almost serious 'Are You Lonesome Tonight' excellent performance.
'If You Love Me' is strong and another variation is 'Softly As I Leave You' great as ever. 'It's Now Or Never' is without Spanish sounding trumpets and close to Italian original, 'Polk Salad Annie' is weird and full of life. Immediately after this Elvis introduces The Righteous Brothers - they recorded 'Unchained Melody' and also 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'' with the famous Phil Spectors' "Wall of the sound" arrangement. Elvis sang one line from it at this moment. Last on this CD of songs from 19th August is a superb requested 'My Boy', Elvis changes line "...this is no happy home" for "this is no happy song" and held very long last note before ending for more dramatic effect, one of best versions ever!
Sound quality of the recording from 20th August dinner show is just as good. 'And I Love You So' begins with two false starts, but it is a nice version. It sounds a little different than others. Another rare live song is 'Green Green Grass Of Home' Elvis personal favourite, this version is similar to the alternate take released on "Country" CD by RCA in 1997 he recites third verse. He also sing "As I fell out, eh, step down from the train" Next is 'Fairytale', from the same "TODAY" album, as two previous and following songs, and really good one. 'T.R.O.U.B.L.E.' is the penultimate performance of this and it is brilliant; fast like a tornado, especially when you compare it with the same song from April/May (pretty boring, slow and lacklustre versions) and June tours, with long "Hey, Hey, Hey" - ending. On footage you can see Elvis in pose like as he is riding an invisible motorbike, pure rock'n' roll all the way. Why Me Lord is a funny version as usually in 1975, I prefer 1974 ones as they are much more serious, without fooling around with J. D. Sumner. 'Until It's Time For You To Go' was quite rare in Elvis repertory at this time and this moody song is short here, but magnificent. But back to good rock, temperature rising, 'Burning Love' shines, sung in rapid tempo and only last song left.
In all you have opportunity to purchase worth material, when you will buy this CD, from August 1975 it is the best recording available, when I rate the sound, and all performances are good too, I think that you couldn't be disappointed, however it is not extremely essential CD.
Sound quality rating: ***/*****
Show rating: ****/***** for both shows.
Reviewed by Oto Meszaros, CZECH REPUBLIC.